Chocolate-loving crowd

Shoppers with a sweet tooth took to the streets of Marietta Friday night for the annual Moonlight and Chocolate Walk.

Sponsored by Marietta Main Street, the event featured 26 downtown merchants and restaurants serving up special chocolate-themed treats and offering discounts to those with an event ticket.

“Every year this event grows in popularity. I think next year we’re going to try to start offering pre-sale tickets,” said Jean G. Farmer, Executive Director of Marietta Main Street.

The event is a fundraiser for Marietta Main Street, formerly ReStore Marietta. Tickets were $15 per person or $25 per couple.

The night is also a great chance for people to experience stores they may have never ventured into, said Teri Ann Pfeffer, owner of Teri Ann’s of Front Street.

“I just had a couple ladies from Parkersburg who said they use this night to visit stores they don’t always go into it. That’s why we do it, so people explore all the stores,” said Pfeffer, who was serving up chocolate tortes prepared by Parkhurst Dining.

In fact, Bethany Pevarski, 20, who was shopping in Teri Ann’s was experiencing many of the merchants for the first time Friday night.

“Almost all these shops are new to me and I’ve lived here my whole life,” said Pevarski, of Marietta.

Pevarski, also a first time Moonlight & Chocolate Walk attendee, had come with event regulars Robyn Turner, 31, of Marietta, and Waterford resident Gina Moening.

“I love it,” said Moening. “I love going in the different stores and just browsing.”

Plus the event is a great ladies night, added Turner.

Out-of-towners Sherry Herman, of Columbus, and Kim Herman, of Virginia Beach, stumbled upon the event by accident.

“The man at our hotel mentioned it to us. We were escaping for a weekend and Marietta is a good meet up in the middle. We walked around town today and it seemed like it would be fun,” said Sherry.

Being from larger cities, the long-time friends and sister-in-laws were impressed by the variety of shops in the downtown area.

“It’s got a great small town feel,” said Kim.

“You find unique things instead of commercial chain businesses,” added Sherry.

The owners of H. Rietz & Co. Antiques were experimenting with a new chocolatey treat for their inaugural Moonlight & Chocolate at their new location.

“We do popcorn for the Merchants and Artist Walk so we decided to try chocolate popcorn this year,” said Shana Woodford, as her husband Dan tended the chocolatey kernels.

If word of mouth was any indication, the experiment was a success.

“Oh here’s where the popcorn is,” exclaimed one customer walking through the door.

Browsing the antique store with her husband, Melissa Haessly, of Marietta, was actually getting a jump start on her Christmas shopping during the event.

“We’re on a date. We have three children so we don’t get to go out all the time. It’s nice to see everyone and support small business,” said Haessly.

As with the monthly Merchants and Artist Walks, many retailers kept longer hours for the event. But Moonlight & Chocolate has a more intimate feel, with shoppers getting more involved than during a typical Merchants and Artist Walk, said Chuck Swaney, owner of FOUND Antiques on Maple Street.

“It’s a different take on Merchants and Artist Walk. It has a theme and I think that attracts people that want to really experience the event,” said Swaney.